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September 30, 2013

Al-Qaeda goes dark after administration leaks and blunders

Bumped due to previous inadvertent Stompenating.

Smart power baby. Top Men.

You may recall that back in August, the United States temporarily closed most of its embassies in the Middle East (and issued global travel warnings), due to an unspecified threat that appeared to be emanating from Yemen. A couple days later, it was reported that the warnings came about because al-Qaeda was believed to be in the final stages of planning a major attack (that was now apparently averted.)
I'd previously speculated in comments how the embassy shutdown debacle a couple of months ago may have been a hasty reaction to an Al-Qaeda comms security TEST, rather than a response to genuine threat.

We have no idea if the supposed planned attack was real or fake since nothing happened.

What we do know is, our response to this "intel" WAS REAL and READILY OBSERVABLE.

If you were AQ and wanted to do an integrity check on your comms protocol(s) and conduits, what better way than to have your enemy validate that integrity for you? Seeing real world responses to fake intel trumps speculation and guessing every time.

If you had multiple active information protocols/conduits, as I'm sure AQ does, and suspect one may have been compromised, you'd just engineer and release multiple plausible fake narratives, one for each protocol/conduit, then see what sort of responses, if any, are generated. A response correlating to the fake intel for a particular conduit identifies the compromised protocol/conduit. [This isn't just a "spook thing", commercial/industrial information security uses this technique every day to find leaks.]

At that point, you've got a couple of options - go dark on the compromised conduit, or if you want to be more clever, turn it against your enemy and use it to your advantage to feed them future misinformation.

If you go dark, your enemy knows for certain that you know the conduit has been compromised...and they start looking around for your new conduits.

If you start feeding them mundane crap with the occasional fake but plausible nuggets, you got a chance to lead them around by the nose on a bunch of fruitless snipe hunts that dilute and expend their resources. ex. the soviets were notorious for setting up fake missile silos so U2's and sats could "notice" them.

AQ may not be sophisticated enough to play this spy-vs-spy stuff quite at the n-level indirections we did with the Soviets, but I'm damn sure they're sophisticated enough to run occasional tests of their comm protocols for leaks and intercepts.

The absolute worst thing is overtly responding to intel, as we did, which reveals your defensive posture, then bragging about what conduit that intel came from. If the intel WAS fake and a test, you did everything the enemy wanted you to and then some.

It would be a mistake to presume AQ is so unsophisticated they operate like a bunch of 5 year olds playing Cowboys and Indians in a tree fort.

MOAR here in Allah's piece that was sidebar'd

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posted by Purp at 05:30 PM

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